Elite #1559 “went missing” for seven years. There are no records from December 19, 1963 when it was sold by the factory, and late 1970 when it was imported into the U. S.
We are actively seeking input from anyone that might be able to shed some light on where the car was and who owned it. We invite comments or questions at the bottom of this page.
What we know:
#1559 was sold by the factory on Dec. 19, 1963
According the Warren King ledger sheets, #1559 was sold to one ‘R. J. Fuller’. However we’ve found no trace of anyone by that name that could have been a purchaser.
The registration number
The car arrived in the U. S. with the UK registration plate ABD 789B. Multiple attempts by many different people have not been able to uncover any record of that number in the UK agencies.
The classified ad
We believe that this was the advertisement that caught the eye of the U. S. buyer…
This appeared in the July 1970 issue of Motor Sport Magazine. It aligns well with the timing for when the car arrived in the U. S.
The identifying elements in this advertisement are:
- It’s a twin-cam.
- 1962. (In sequence, #1559 would have been a 1961, but was ultimately sold as a 1963.)
- Ford close-ratio gearbox (with alloy bell housing and tail-shaft.)
- Recently resprayed.
What didn’t fit were the 165 x 13″ G800 wheels/tires. (Note that the 165×13″ Goodyear G800 radials were an extra-cost option on the Lotus Cortinas.)
It was indeed resprayed
It was also true that the car had been recently (and crudely) resprayed.
(Note the photo of the registration plate above. It was obviously on the car during the respray.)
The wheels and tires
One discrepancy was that the car was listed as having 165 x 13″ tires, while this car was fitted with 15″ Semperits. Of note, was that the Semperits were like new, with the molding nubbles still intact.
The tire date codes were the 28th week of 1965, so it is possible that a set of earlier 15″ wheels and tires were substituted for the 13″ as part of a sales agreement.
The phone number
Most telling from the classified ad however, was the phone number: Hingham (Norfolk) 254.
It was listed to Victor Grimwood!
Victor Grimwood was the Lotus employee who, according to Miles Wilkins, had done the twin cam installation in #1559.
A windscreen decal?
This is a photo of the top center of the windscreen showing the glue remaining from a decal that had apparently been removed from the glass at some time in the past.
Can anyone identify this?
Perhaps membership in a fraternal order? A sports team fan? A favorite pub?
There is strong evidence that #1559 sat out of doors for a long period of time, and spent part of that time with the right-hand door removed and laying on its side.
There was a white precipitate in the inner door liners that could only have resulted from rain water collecting and then evaporating.
The very large quantity of precipitate would suggest many years of being open to the elements.
(The photo above is of the door liner, as received, photo-shopped onto a photo of the door to illustrate its orientation.)
I had the precipitate analyzed in the hopes of gaining some clues as to where it might have been sitting. (Sea salt? Sulfur? Diesel particulates?) Not much luck yet, but the report can be downloaded here if anyone is curious.
Another indicator of the neglect that #1559 must have endured is the absolutely astounding amount of rust that we found on the steel components.
The worst rust was in the passenger compartment, especially the seat adjusting rails and seat belt anchors. I suspect that the interior must have periodically filled with rain water to the door sills.
Interestingly, the seats themselves were in very good condition — but they had red upholstery, while the door panels were black. I doubt that Lotus shipped any Elites with mis-matched interior colors, so I presume the seats were replaced prior to sale.
It is fortunate that the sub frame skis were spared the massive amounts of rust found elsewhere.
(Photo is of the skis soaking in rust converter.)
One possible reason that #1559 might have been off the road for an extended period of time might have been accident damage.
The left rear quarter showed signs of fiberglass repair, the left rear shock was bent (and full of water) and the right rear hub was damaged and repaired with braze.
#1559 arrived in the U. S. in this condition
It is clear that this neglect occurred in the UK, prior to being shipped to the U.S.
The photos below were taken shortly after the car was imported into the U. S. (That’s a 1971 Michigan license plate on the front of the car.) The condition of the car was essentially the same when it arrived in Vermont in 2016 – 45 years later.